HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Fall leaves mark the changing seasons at the Hanover County government complex, and a steady stream of early voters signal major changes and interest in early voting in Central Virginia.
Local registrars said because this is the first election for no-excuse absentee voting in Virginia and COVID-19 concerns, record numbers of ballots are already in before Election Day.
Kathleen Harrell was in and out of the registrar’s office within five minutes, despite the virus mitigation protocols.
“I decided to come out and vote early because my decision has been made. It’s a clear decision for me, and I wanted to come out when it would be safe to do so,” Harrell said. “Everybody was being very thorough. As soon as I voted, somebody came and cleaned up the voting station after me. Those are definitely changes, and I’m happy to see them.”
As of the morning of October 5, the Virginia Department of Elections reports 1,031,399 absentee ballots have been requested statewide, and 279,083 have already been processed.
Virginia elections officials said 363,268 voters have cast ballots early, in-person across the Commonwealth.
Please note, these numbers change daily.
Also, Virginia election law allows local registrars to process absentee ballots before Election Night, but those ballots are not counted.
Given the crush of early voting statewide, CBS 6 asked the registrar’s office in the four largest localities in Central Virginia for their early voting numbers as of the morning of October 5.
Here are the results:
- 256,537 registered voters
- 14,220 early, in-person ballots
- 44,611 mail-in ballots requested
- 9,136 mail-in ballots processed
- 234,384 registered voters
- 19,404 early, in-person ballots
- 43,922 mail-in ballots requested
- 11,886 mail-in ballots processed
- 81,000 registered voters
- 7,162 early, in-person ballots
- 11,746 mail-in ballots requested
- 4,708 mail-in ballots processed
Numbers for the city of Richmond have not been provided yet.
“It certainly looks like a lot of people are excited about this election on both sides,” CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said.
Despite the pandemic and its anticipated impact on the election several months ago, Holsworth said the early voting tallies indicate final voter turnout will be high.
The number of absentee ballots that are disqualified because they are not filled out properly, which happens every election cycle, was worth tracking, according to Holsworth, who said it could have an impact on some local races.
“We have extremely important congressional races going on that could be very, very competitive. We need to take a look at what percentage of the absentee ballots that get sent in are actually determined to be valid,” he said.
At the Hanover County registrar’s office, a steady stream of voters came to vote early Tuesday afternoon, four weeks from election day.
Jackie and Beatrice Wright have been married for 60 years and didn’t want to take any chances, so they voted early this year.
“Because we want our constitutional rights, that’s exactly why,” Beatrice Wright said.
“It’s actually easier, or just as easy, as our polling place,” Jackie Wright said.
Thomas and Jillian Lejeune, both 19, have been married for only two months. It is their first time voting, so they came together before Election Day.
“It was easy, I was nervous. I didn’t know what I was going to jump into, especially with the whole COVID,” Jillian Lejeune said.
“It’s just very important to know who’s going to be in charge and to be part of the decision-making process. That’s your right and definitely something everyone should take part in because otherwise, you’re missing out,” Thomas Lejeune said.
Key Dates and Deadlines in Virginia
Tuesday, Oct. 13: Voter Registration DeadlineFriday, Oct. 23: Request Absentee/Mail-In Ballot DeadlineSaturday, Oct. 31: Early, In-Person Voting EndsTuesday, Nov. 3 is Election Day: In-Person VotingTuesday, Nov. 3: Absentee/Mail-In Postmark by DateFriday, Nov. 6: Absentee/Mail-In Delivered By Date